Prep Baseball: Salisbury still alive
SALISBURY — When he’s healthy, Salisbury senior Brian Bauk is one of the best athletes Rowan County has produced in the last decade, and right now, he’s 100 percent.
Few can do what a 100-percent Bauk can do on a baseball diamond. On any given Tuesday, he’s capable of 4-for-4 at the plate with four runs scored and four steals — while pitching a one-hitter and striking out 14. That multi-dimensional magic explains why the Texas Rangers have monitored Bauk’s progress and scouted him Friday when he shut down Starmount in the first round of the 2A playoffs.
Bauk, who signed with Appalachian State, is one reason Salisbury continues to win its share when many city-school baseball programs are struggling.
“You make do with what you’ve got,” Bauk said. “We just work hard. We do the extra stuff. We scrap it up and play Salisbury baseball.”
Scott Maddox has coached Salisbury baseball 13 seasons. His lifetime record will never shine because his first four years the Hornets won 20 and lost 67.
But you may be surprised to read that Salisbury is 118-110 in Maddox’s last nine seasons, including this year’s 13-11. That’s not a track record like East Rowan has, but it’s not bad. Twice Maddox’s Hornets have won 17 games, the most at the school since 1984.
“When I started here, we didn’t have a home field,” Maddox said. “Getting the field (Robertson Stadium) really helped. Getting an indoor facility where our kids can hit year-round helped. We got a few kids back here that belonged here and then we started keeping kids here and we started having a little success.”
It will never be easy success. Wins at Knox Middle, Salisbury’s primary feeder school, are infrequent, although Maddox is enthusiastic about the strides the Trojans are making. Other players, such as Bauk, come from the private schools where they don’t field teams.
“You can get used to losing, and the easy thing is to keep losing,” Maddox said. “You have to challenge yourself to turn things around, and we have kids that have done that. They put everything they have into their four years here. We’ve been able to develop tradition, and it helps when you have leaders like Bauk that hate to lose and have strong personalities.”
Maddox points at slugging third baseman Parker McKeithan, a hulking 6-foot-5 football lineman headed to Appalachian State, as a work-ethic wonder.
“Parker is a football player first and he wasn’t even sure if he was going to play baseball when he came here,” Maddox said. “But he’s just kept practicing and kept getting better. He’s made himself all-conference.”
The thing SHS never has is depth. When Will Steinman, the starting catcher, was lost for the season, it could’ve been disastrous.
“When we lose a player, it’s not like we’ve got someone just as good that was waiting to play,” Maddox said. “We don’t have the numbers. We had to move our second baseman (Skyler Mikkelson) to catcher, and he’s done the job. And we put a freshman (Alex Yang) at second base.”
While Maddox’s long run has meant stability, he credits dedicated assistants and resilient players for that steady flow of wins.
“I’ve had good people to work with,” he said. “The one thing I give myself credit for is not being too stubborn. I’ve found people who know a lot about the game, and I’ve listened to them.”
Salisbury has a pretty good team and was strong enough to finish second in the CCC.
“We’re 13-11, but I believe it could’ve been a 17-7 team if we’d scheduled easier,” Maddox said. “But we played Carson. We played Davie. We played South and West and Olympic. We used non-conference to try to get better for conference and playoffs.”
Salisbury’s second-round task tonight is daunting. The Hornets play at Piedmont, one of the best 2A programs in the state. Piedmont has eliminated the Hornets the last two seasons, in a one-run game in 2011 and a blowout in 2012. Bauk took the loss both times, not that he has to be reminded.
“They beat my butt last year,” he said.
Bauk and Maddox both compared Piedmont (23-2) to the solid East Davidson squad that beat the Hornets twice and won the CCC,
“They have strong pitching and very good defense,” Bauk said. “They haven’t made an error in six games, but maybe they’re due to make some.”
Hard-throwing youngster Riley Myers will start on the mound for Salisbury. Seniors Scott Friedrich and Bauk will be ready in relief.
Bauk says he threw 100 or so pitches Friday, but he feels strong.
“Relieving Tuesday won’t be a problem,” he said. “I could’ve relieved Saturday.”
TONIGHT: Carson (24-3) is home against Asheboro (15-7), a program it’s never faced. With Colton Laws resting, John Daugherty (8-0) is the probable hurler for the Cougars. Dylan Prevatte keys Asheboro’s offense. Grant Cole and Chase Kucinski have been pitching standouts. Cole pitched a complete game Friday when Asheboro beat Central Cabarrus 5-2, and Nick Hannon had a two-run double. If Carson advances, it will be home again Friday... In 3A, South Rowan (19-8) is at Charlotte Catholic (20-6). South ace Dillon Parker pitched Friday, so Aaron Bare or Nathan Lambert will start on the mound. South hasn’t won 19 since it was 23-4 in 1996. Catholic has been poison for Rowan teams, eliminating Carson in 2010 and 2011, South in 2011, and West last week. ... In 1A, North Rowan (11-12) travels to Walnut Cove to play unfamiliar opponent South Stokes (16-9). South Stokes beat YVC team Chatham Central 3-2 in 10 innings in the first round. Chance Mazza (.378) and Clint Veal (.367) lead North’s offense. Veal pitched Friday’s win at Cherryville. Brandon White and Travis Holshouser are pitching options. Shortstop/pitcher Brandon Ashburn is a standout for the Sauras. ... In 4A, Davie (17-7) is at CPC rival West Forsyth 21-6). The teams split two meetings in late March.